Low Sugar Wholemeal Papaya Cake without Butter

What do you do when someone gives you way too many papayas? 

I'm not a big fan of papaya myself, so there's no way I can contribute in finishing off the fruit by eating it, and I don't think others would enjoy stuffing their faces with the same fruit for the next few days. However, I can certainly think of other ways to help reducing the chance of them going to waste, as some of them are already on the soft side.

If I can accept carrot cake while not really into eating the root itself, I can probably have papaya blended in my dessert too. Since there are people around the world making pawpaw (a close cousin of the local papaya) cake and pawpaw bread, I believe it is possible for me to bake a papaya cake.

So, here's my first experiment of a small papaya cake using wholemeal flour (which I have accidentally bought a little too much in the last online shopping of flour, so I thought I would be even more adventurous by making it my very first wholemeal cake). To be on the safe side, I have adopted one of my old recipes of blueberry muffins, with a few adjustments thrown in.

Cake batter ingredients:
200g wholemeal flour 
60g brown sugar 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
A pinch of sea salt 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
100ml sunflower oil 
120ml fresh milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
200g papaya, finely chopped and drained off excess liquid
2 tablespoons orange zest 

Instead of grating to get orange zest, I do usually peel off the thin layer of rind very carefully whenever we have oranges, store them in an airtight container in the freezer immediately, then chop them into fine zest when I need to. Reason being, I find zesting oranges or lemons in this tropical weather a tiring yet near impossible task; as most of the zest will end up being stuck in the zester holes due to natural condensation, and it is frustrating. If you have a food processor, you can also pop the readily peeled rinds in it to quickly turn them into fine zest.

Peeled orange rinds from the freezer, ready to be finely chopped.

Crumble topping (optional):
1 tablespoons sunflower oil 
2 tablespoons wholemeal flour 
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
  1. As I always do, I started off by preparing the crumble topping by mixing the 3 ingredients together in a small bowl with the tip of my fingers, till the mixture becomes crumb-like. Set aside.
  2. Set the oven to 185°C, and lightly grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish with a little oil up to the sides, then sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the oil.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients for the cake batter in a bowl or a measuring jug.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Gradually pour the wet ingredients mixture into the well whilst folding together gently till the dry ingredients are just moistened. The batter would still be rather lumpy.
  5. Now gently fold in the chopped papaya and the orange zest.
  6. Pour the cake mix into the baking dish.
  7. Scatter the crumble mix over the top of the batter (if using).
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or till a skewer poked through the cake comes out clean. 
  9. Remove from the oven to cool completely before turning it out or cutting it.
I could have used a loaf tin to create a taller cake, but as I have doubled the old blueberry muffins recipe without increasing the amount of baking powder (just in case it causes a bitter aftertaste), I have tried to keep the depth of the batter in the baking dish similar to that in the muffin tray holes - in order to achieve a similar rise (that is what I have been told anyway).

The cake turned out to be edible, even for me (phew!), slightly on the dense side probably due to the fact that wholemeal flour has been used, but still moist. By adding a substantial amount of orange zest has helped lift the taste of the papaya, as I personally find that papayas have an acquired taste which is almost fishy.

Now that I know what the cake texture is like, I would probably use a slightly narrower baking dish in my next try, just to see how a deeper batter would turn out. As we still have more papayas in the pantry, that next papaya cake won't be too far in the future.


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